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Fewer migratory water birds sighted at Ropar

Bar-headed geese are among the birds whose numbers have dwindled at the Ropar Wetland.   | Photo Credit: Lingaraj Panda

Fewer winter migratory water birds from central and north Asia were sighted at the Ropar Wetland in Punjab this season, apparently because of increasing human interference.

Asian Waterbird Census 2017, conducted by Wetlands International, South Asia, and Punjab’s Wildlife Preservation Department on January 16 this year, revealed that the number of water birds this season stood at 2,302 as against 3,114 last year.

The birds that came up this year included oriental darter and river papwing, both put on the red-list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Ropar has been declared a wetland by the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands. Asian Waterbird Census is part of the International Waterbird Census of Wetlands International, South Asia, which conducts the exercise every January across Asia and Australia.

The census revealed that while the number of Eurasian coot, bar-headed geese, ruddy shelduck, oriental darter and river lapwing dwindled this year, that of graylag goose and red-crested pochard increased. Among India’s resident water birds, spot-billed duck rose in number to 130 against 56 last year.

‘Human disturbances’

“Due to local disturbance such as threat and unavailability of food, the number of certain species decreases on many wetlands. At Ropar, boating, fishing and human disturbances along the riverbanks seem to drive away the water birds,” AWC Delhi State coordinator T.K. Roy told The Hindu.

Mr. Roy said some vegetarian ducks or geese preferred certain safe wetlands for their stay but moved during daytime to nearby grasslands or farmlands for feeding.

“Ropar is a riverine wetland with hardly any vegetation; but there are farmlands along the riverbanks where geese and ducks go for feeding. However, farmers try to keep them away from their land. This explains the dip in the number of bar-headed geese and ruddy shelduck which could have moved to other areas,” he said. With seasonal wetlands getting dry because of global warming, migratory birds going to a particular wetland switch to nearby wetlands, lakes, reservoirs with a large open area for seasonal congregation. Hence, the number of certain species increased.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 3:35:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fewer-migratory-water-birds-sighted-at-ropar/article17431005.ece

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